Monday, June 30, 2008

Adults adore children's books

AliceSo, tell me something I don't know, you must be saying. This report from the Daily Mail says that three-quarters of adult readers in Britain still like to read children's stories like Roald Dahl's Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, The Chronicles Of Narnia and the Harry Potter books. (They missed out The Vicar of Nibbleswick, my favourite, but then that's because I am dyslexic.)

About one quarter like reading 19th century romances and classics such as Little Women, Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre.

Topping the 'secret reads' list is Harry Potter. Others are Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles Of Narnia, Mills and Boon, The Hobbit, Black Beauty, Bridget Jones, Adrian Mole, and The Kama Sutra. (Though I don't understand why it should be secret.)

The survey of 2,000 adults was conducted for by YouGov.

The Daily Mail

Virtual Book Browsing

ZoomiiYou know what a pain it is to browse through a hundred titles on the internet, especially if you live in Malaysia with stone age broadband? Anyway, it is so much more fun to go through the books in a bookshop (despite the risk of permanent nect injury from looking at titles sideways at some). Firstly, you get to go through more books in less time. Then you get to touch and feel (or is it caress?) the books, admire the paper and print quality, the embossed title, the UV laminate, and smell them (I mean, take in the aroma) before you are allowed to be seduced and agree to take them home with you -- for they are such beautiful objects. In contrast buying books on the internet is so cold, so utilitarian, so functional, so unromantic, so blah. Worse than that would be downloading a book digitally. (Okay, textbooks and academic material do deserve to be downloaded digitally, though porn is will probably be the first to get there -- erotica, right! )

At Zoomii, 'You can zoom in and out of bookshelves or pan around to navigate the service. The site design feels just like you're browsing a bookshelf at any bookstore except the books are facing cover-forward instead of spine-out. To keep up with the feel of a bookstore, books are organized by author and you can also compare book sizes to get a feel for how big or small a book is ...' and then buy it at Amazon.

I tried Zoomii. It does all the tings it says it does, but I found it a bit clunky. I guess, you could chance to spot a book you have been looking for all your life while Zoomii-ing about, but it does not beat finding one in your local bookshop, and cheaper too.

But now at comes something in between. Still does not quite beat browsing in a bookshop, but it is quite cool.



Silverfish at Cannes Outdoor Lions


We all know about the Cannes film festivals with the stardust and red carpets, but did you know about the Cannes Lions? The Cannes Lions 2008, 55th International Advertising Festival was held from the 15th to the 21st of June. We have been told that this is generally regarded as the Olympics of the advertising world. So, why are we telling you this? Because the advertisement Saatchi & Saatchi, Petaling Jaya designed for Silverfish Books has just won the Gold in the Outdoor Lion category. Ta-daaa!

You can see the winning entries at Silverfish Books (some of you already have) or at this website:

The creative director of Saatchi & Saatchi, Petaling Jaya is Adrian Miller. Sounds familiar? It should. He wrote the short story News in Silverfish New Writing 5 and who was the Creative Director behind the cover design for the book. Adrian just came back from Cannes (after a well-deserved week's holiday in Paris) and is bubbling with excitement. You would too if you won a 'gold' at the Olympics, wouldn't you? The Grand Prix next, Adrian?

Interestingly, Malaysian advertising companies won 11 awards, three of them gold, at Cannes this year.

Cannes Lions


Monday, June 16, 2008

July 1-8 is indie week

IBW1-8 July 2008 will be the inaugural Independent Booksellers Week (IBW) in Britain with more than 320 bookshops participating. The IBW is officially sponsored and supported by The Times which will be providing editorial coverage. The scheme was devised by the Small Business Forum (SBF).

This is from the IBW website: 'The inagural Independent Booksellers Week between 1st-8th July. Independent Booksellers Week is a celebration of independent bookselling, and has been organised by the Small Business Forum of the Booksellers Association (BA). Independent Booksellers Week is funded by Bertrams, Gardners Books, National Book Tokens and the BA and is supported by The Times and The Book Partnership, with additional help from Galaxy and Readers' Digest. Jacqueline Wilson, former Childrens' Laureate, and much loved author, is also supporting the campaign.'

Author Kate Mosse, who is also the television presenter of the BBC Four literary chat show, the Readers' and Writers' Roadshow and who, in 1996, co-founded the annual Orange Prize for Fiction by women, says: "It's high time that we celebrate our vibrant independent bookshops. I've always admired and shared independent booksellers' passion for books and reading, and I feel they play a crucial role in local communities. I hope that this initiative will encourage people to visit their local bookshops and discover for themselves what makes them so special."

Celebrations in the shops are expected to include author signing sessions, school visits for storytelling, and holding children’s and reading-group parties.

Publisher's Weekly


Which one are you?

A Publishers Weekly report quoting results from a poll conducted by Random House/Zogby quotes:

  • 11: % of people who enjoy reading books digitally
  • 13: % of people under 30 open to reading books digitally
  • 6: % of people over 65 open to reading books digitally
  • 43: % of people who go into a bookstore looking for a specific book
  • 77: % of people who make additional purchases when looking for a specific book
  • 52: % of people whose book purchases are swayed by cover art
  • 49: % of people whose book purchases are swayed by reviews
  • 60: % of people whose book purchases are swayed by recommendations from friends or family
  • 35: % of people who have been swayed to purchase a book because of a cover quote
  • 86: % of people who seek out books by authors they like
  • 49: % of people who shop at indies as well as at chains and online
  • 9: % of people who usually shop at indies
Publishers Weekly

Borders sale -- going, going, gone

BordersBorders Group, Inc., in a press statement on the 10th of June 2008 said that it has closed on the transaction to sell its Australia/New Zealand/Singapore businesses to A&R Whitcoulls (ARW), the leading Australasian retailer of books and related products owned by private equity firm Pacific Equity Partners (PEP). Borders website says that the final agreement was made on the 5th of June 2004. (One wonders about the effect of this announcement on Borders Malaysia, which we believe is not part of the Borders group but a franchise.)

But some commentators have reacted with 'shock and horror'.

Stephanie Johnston, of Wakefield Press worries about buying patterns or the philosophy change under the new ownership. She worries about greater discounts (from publishers) and 'pushing up prices to maintain margins' though she is 'looking forward to being paid earlier by accounting offices on the ground here in Australia'.

Others are less charitable. Another publisher says, "I'm worried that A&R's degree of aggression
and incompetence will infiltrate Borders' management." Ouch. It appears that A&R has a reputation of 'cut(ting) back its buying enormously, making initially tiny orders even on books that seemed a natural fit.'

But Peter Phillips, the departing sales and marketing director at Pan Macmillan is more pragmatic: "... if they don't do a good job, then someone else will pick up the market."

Meanwhile, in a AP report, 'William Ackerman, the billionaire hedge fund manager who is a major stakeholder in Borders Group Inc., said ... the bookseller should consider approaching online retailer Inc. about a possible acquisition'.

The report quotes him: "Amazon could buy the company for about (US)$400 million to get those
locations that would take more than (UD)$1 billion to build, "he told reporters on the sidelines of a conference in New York. "You have to think of it like how Apple has retail stores across the

So, it looks like the death of 'brick-and-mortar' has been greatly exaggerated.


The Age

Associated Press (at Yahoo)